Taking our teeth for granted is something that many of us tend to do…until we no longer have healthy teeth.
Our tooth enamel is stronger than gold. It’s the hardest substance in our bodies. But no matter how strong it is, it still can’t protect our teeth from ourselves. It might be hard, but our enamel is not infallible, especially to some of the things we do to damage our teeth every day…without really knowing it.
Here are some surprising, and maybe not so surprising, ways you could be harming your teeth. Please note: Drinking copious amounts of Mountain Dew didn’t make this year’s list.
6 Surprising Ways You Can Harm Your Teeth
- Makeshift Flossing– When it comes to flossing, many Americans just aren’t fans of the string. Instead quite a few people would opt for “flossing” in strange ways. According to an ADA survey, when it came to getting debris out from between their teeth, many preferred using fingernails, folded paper, cutlery, even safety pins. And a large majority of respondents even admitted that they knew their instruments of floss could cause harm, and that they sometimes felt pain using them. Please don’t use a knife to floss your teeth. If you hate floss, here are some alternatives.
- Using Your Mouth to Open Things – Your teeth work hard for you every day. They help you talk, eat, and make your smile memorable. Unfortunately, sometimes we feel that out teeth should work overtime, handling a variety of other tasks – bottle openers, tearing open plastic packaging, biting nails. Your teeth aren’t a swiss army knife. Using them like one, will lead to cracks & breaks, chips, gum injuries, and more. Please let your teeth do their primary job, and use scissors, nail clippers, bottle openers, or any other tool, for doing anything else.
- Extreme Dental Hygiene – It’s not a sport. Brushing and flossing with a vengeance can cause as much harm to your teeth, as neglecting your oral hygiene. About 20% of people have damaged their teeth or gums as a result of over brushing. Brushing too hard, as well as using the wrong toothbrush, can lead to receding gums, tooth sensitivity and erode your tooth’s enamel. And overzealous flossing can damage or irritate your gums too. Are you overdoing your dental hygiene? Look here to see if you’re brushing like a pro or if you’ve mastered the art of flossing!
- Brushing Too Soon After Eating – This seems surprising, but sometimes brushing too soon after you eat may not be great for your teeth. Brushing your teeth after eating food or drinking foods high in acidity can actually remove enamel from your teeth because it’s been weakened by the acid. (citrus fruits, blueberries, tomatoes,sodas, sports drinks, orange juice) So, what should you do if you regularly consume acidic foods or drinks — citrus fruits, tomatoes, blueberries, sodas, sports drinks or orange juice? Wait 30 minutes to an hour before brushing, or brush your teeth before you eat, and then rinse your mouth with water after your meal. Note: Delaying your tooth brushing after eating is also advised for people who regularly suffer from GERD (heartburn).
- Alcohol & Cannabis Can Cause Cavities – Smoking cannabis and drinking too much alcohol causes dry mouth, which lowers your ability to produce saliva. Why is your saliva important? It washes away food debris that gets stuck in your gums and helps remove bacteria that can erode the enamel of your teeth and lead to cavities. It’s also your mouth’s first-line of defense against certain germs that can cause more serious health issues. Smoking pot can also increase your risk of gum disease. According to a Duke University study, participants who smoked marijuana over a 20 year period, had a greater degree of gum disease.
- Lifting Weights & Exercising Too Much – Seems like athletes have more issues with tooth erosion than couch potatoes. A study (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports) compared saliva samples from athletes during workout sessions with saliva samples of healthy adults who did not exercise. The study discovered that athletes’ saliva production decreased, causing their mouths to become drier and the alkalinity of their saliva to increase, which is thought to bump up the chance of developing cavities. Though the study was conducted on athletes who exercise up to nine hours every week, the research suggests that intense endurance training could be detrimental to oral health.
Lift weights? Be mindful of clenching your teeth. Teeth clenching comes naturally when we lift because it helps us exert more energy. If you’re lifting heavy weights for exercise, or during your job, consider wearing a custom made mouth guard. It could save your teeth from you.
Rather than focusing on things that damage your teeth, there are plenty of easy things you can do to steer your oral health out of harm’s way. Not taking your teeth for granted will serve you well for many, many years. And that starts with maintaining your preventative dental hygiene, which includes your annual dental exams and teeth cleanings.
If it’s been a while since your last check-up and cleaning, please give us a call at (206) 547-1000 or schedule your appointment online! We look forward to seeing you soon!